What’s old is new again
For the last fourteen years, Sony and Insomniac Games’ Ratchet & Clank series has been a beloved PlayStation staple, dishing up some of the best 3D platforming-shooter experiences in all of gaming. The original game, released in 2002 on PlayStation 2, introduced us to the charismatic Lombax and talented mechanic, Ratchet, along with his diminutive, cute-as-a-button robot sidekick, XJ-0461, a.k.a. Clank. Now you can relive their epic origins story on PS4 with a fully re-imagined new version, complete with new worlds, new weapons, new bosses, gorgeous new graphics, and other surprises.
Unlike most remakes and remastered games we’ve seen on PS4 that build upon and enhance an existing game, for Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac has gone the whole nine yards by re-developing and re-envisioning the original game from the ground-up. Not only is the story retold from a whole new perspective, but the game borrows numerous characters, weapons, and innovations from later entries in the series, making this game feel like a bona fide greatest hits.
Platform: PlayStation 4
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Platformer, Shooter
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
Ties in with the movie
Technically speaking, Ratchet & Clank the video game based on the recent feature film adaptation by Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment, which itself is a reimagining of the original PS2 game. The game and the movie were created to be complementary pieces, each giving you a different perspective on Ratchet and Clank’s timeless journey across the Solana Galaxy. There are a lot of crossovers between the game and movie, such as the talented voice actors James Arnold Taylor (Ratchet), David Kaye (Clank), and Jim Ward (Qwark) who all reprise their famous roles in both, as well as over one hour of cinematics in-game taken directly from the film. Ratchet & Clank—the game and the movie—share one grand, intergalactic creative vision re-telling the origins of these storied characters.
Save the Solana Galaxy, again
In a fun twist, this time the majority of this classic tale is a “flashback” narrated by the once honoured intergalactic superhero Captain Copernicus L. Qwark—who now resides in prison where he recounts his side of the story—peppering it with his witty, over-the-top signature personality. Just like in the original, the story begins on the factory planet of Quartu where the nefarious Chairman Drek hatches his plan to destroy planets in the Solana Galaxy and use their raw materials to reconstruct a new utopian world for his people, the Blarg. To achieve his goal, he constructs an assembly line army of destructive Warbots; however, a defect in the manufacturing process produces a lone self-aware robot (Clank) that learns of Drek’s plans, and manages to steal a ship and escape.
Clank’s daring getaway is ill-fated though as Drek’s robotic lieutenant, Victor Von Ion, shoots out his ship’s engine, causing him to crash land on the dusty planet of Veldin, homeworld of the hard-working Lombax mechanic Ratchet. Spotting the wreckage explosion, Ratchet rushes over and saves Clank’s life, who then informs our furry-faced hero about the scheming despot’s intentions to annihilating all life in the galaxy. Having dreamt about exotic space adventures his whole life, Ratchet readily agrees to team up with Clank, and sets out in search of the legendary space ranger Captain Qwark, whom he believes is their only hope to stop the villainous Blarg ruler. This simple, yet effective backdrop lays the foundation for Ratchet and Clank’s epic cross-planetary journey to thwart Chairman Drek and save the galaxy.
An extreme makeover
Ratchet & Clank may have the best graphics yet for a PlayStation game. The series has always strove for a Pixar-quality presentation, and now with the raw power of the PS4, Insomniac have finally achieved their goal. Gorgeous worlds with stunning detail await you, from the rocky hills of Veldin, to the tropical islands on Pokitaru, to molten pits of Gaspar, to the ice-cold mountains on Batalia. Each of these majestic planets, and others you’ll visit along the way, will immerse you with their vibrant palette of colours, luscious weather effects, and impressive scope where even objects far off in the distance can be seen with crystal clarity.
Character animations are just as polished as the scenery that surrounds them. A lot of attention has been placed on subtle motions that bring characters to life, like the way Ratchet twirls his OmniWrench when he’s idle, or the many different “gadget” transformations Clank has while riding Ratchet like a backpack. Enemies are just as animated and believable, having the capability to emote a range of expressions from surprise to anger, and each even have their own unique (and hilarious) dance moves when you throw Ratchet’s 70s-inspired disco ball weapon, the Groovitron. When you destroy enemies they burst into a glorious eruption of bolts—the currency Ratchet uses at vendors to purchase weapons and ammo—literally filling the screen with a dazzling metallic light show all with absolutely no dip in the game’s silky smooth framerate.
A zany arsenal of weapons
Half the fun of Ratchet & Clank games is amassing, utilizing, and powering-up a huge arsenal of over-the-top weapons, and this game may just have the best collection yet. Insomniac curated a list of popular weapons from the last fourteen years of Ratchet & Clank games, which includes original favourites like the Glove of Doom (spawns explosive kamikaze mini robots) and Pyrocitor (a close-range flamethrower), along with awesome weapons from later games like Mr. Zurkon (a macho robot companion that fires lasers while letting loose 80s-style action movie quips) and arguably the #1 best Ratchet & Clank weapon ever—the Sheepinator, which fires a transmogrifying beam that turns enemies into harmless wooly creatures. There is one entirely new weapon as well, called the Pixelator, and it behaves like a shotgun but has a twist: the blast spread turns enemies into 2D sprite versions of themselves. What’s really cool about this weapon is it means that Insomniac actually took the effort to create 2D pixel versions of every single enemy in the game, including the huge bosses (seriously, try it!)
Tons of new and returning elements
Fans of the original game will find lots of fun, familiar inclusions inRatchet & Clank, like returning planets to visit, friendly faces to greet, and awesome re-imagined weapons to use, but there are also many new additions that make this game feel like practically a new experience. For starters, there are exciting new flight sequences that will get your adrenaline pumping as you dogfight with other ships as you fly around breathtaking battle arenas. There are also all-new boss fights, new common enemies to contend with, and certain well-known characters from later entries make welcome guest appearances. Even the controls have been significantly updated and now you can seamlessly transition between normal full-range movement used during platforming segments and strafe attack mode during combat situations. You don’t even have to manually change between these two control variants, Ratchet will automatically switch to strafe mode the second you start firing.
Another new feature in Ratchet & Clank are collectible Holocards that cleverly are hidden in the game worlds, and can also randomly drop from defeated enemies. Holocards are grouped into sets of three cards and correspond to various characters, locations, and weapons you’ll meet along your journey. What I love about these cards is not only do they give you a permanent special bonus when you complete a set, but they also act like a trivia repository that give you a view into the last 14 years ofRatchet & Clank.
Holocards aren’t the only hidden goodies either, Gold Bolts return and there are 28 to find across all planets. Collecting Gold Bolts unlock a wealth of bonuses ranging from image galleries, to game cheats, to appearance modification, the latter of which is my favourite. One modification you can unlock is the ability to turn bolts into currency items from other franchises, like Sonic the Hedgehog rings, The Legend of Zelda rupees, or coins from the Sly Cooper series. You can also put amusing masks on Ratchet, including a Qwarkbot (basically a robotic head of Qwark), a T-Rex, and a hideous Blargian Snagglebeast. I had a great time collecting both Holocards and Gold Bolts, but it does require you to revisit planets after you’ve acquired specific weapons or gadgets, so some retreading of familiar territory is required to unlock some of the game’s bonuses.
Ratchet & Clank is a showcase example of how game developers should revisit older titles and modernize them for a new generation. Insomniac Games took the best elements from the PS2 original, mixed in great weapons and gameplay innovations introduced in later entries, and gave the whole experience a fresh new coat of paint. The result is absolutely gorgeous game with incredibly fun gadgets and weapons to play with, and an abundance of interesting new worlds and characters to explore and interact with. Best of all, the exciting action hums along at a fast framerate and never seems to dip no matter how chaotic your battles get. This is a game all PS4 owners should consider.
Lacking story of relationship between Ratchet and Clank
Crates visually clipping/disappearing
+ Nostalgic to revisit Ratchet & Clank’s origins story
+ Visually stunning re-imagination of a PS2 classic
+ Impressive arsenal that is creative, deadly and comical
+ High replayability with Holocards, Gold Bolts, and challenge mode
+ Weapons upgrade system motivates you to explore and max out all weapons
– Loot crates have minor graphical clipping
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 4.5/5 (90%)